CD: Rebirth by Jimmy Cliff

An aptly named album that returns the reggae star to top form, thanks in large part to the production and songwriting assistance of Tim Armstrong of the neo-punk band Rancid. Not only is the music here quite true to the reggae and ska form even if it wasn’t made in Jamaica by Jamaicans, but there’s an energy and spirit to the whole affair that recalls when reggae was a vital style while also sounding fresh and urgent. Due credit for that also goes to a crop of songs that fit right into the rebel music pocket by Cliff himself and written with Armstrong alongside fitting covers of “The Guns of Brixton” by The Clash and one of Armstrong’s Rancid songs reconfigured into the Jamaican groove. If you’re a fan of Cliff’s work on the soundtrack album The Harder They Come and reggae music in its 1970s heyday you’ll likely find this as winning and even classic album as I do, as it’s the best release in that style in my recent memory.

TV Series: Go On

Following the monumental hit that was Friends has not been an easy task for its male stars. But one of the factors that made the show a winner was the their natural appeal, and that helps make this show starring Matthew Perry a strong starter. He plays a sports radio talk show host who gets undone by his ego and shallowness until his wife dies and he reluctantly joins a grieving group. Yeah, it’s rather light and a bit silly yet at the same time its humor helps make the medicine of loss and the grief process go down rather easily (no mean feat when you think about it) yet also convey valuable life lessons. After a first run it’s been picked up for a second season, and I’m hoping it will grow into a show that goes a bit deeper and wilder, but even as fluffy fare it’s a few good notches above most such stuff.

TV Documentary: Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room

This fascinating and illuminating film tells the story of Diana Serra Cary who for a brief spell in the early 1920s was one of America’s biggest child stars of the silent film era known as Baby Peggy. Her early life was the all too common tale of her exploitation and the squandering of her earnings by her parents and subsequent struggle to survive. Cary fortunately had the backbone, wisdom and character to not just survive the potentially damaging situation and find happiness and peace as an adult. In the film we see as she comes to terms with her legacy that has also managed to survive and undergo a revival. And unlike so many Hollywood tales of too much too young, this one has a touchingly happy and quite satisfying end.

From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2013



Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2013 The Progressive Populist
PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652